Reviewed by Dr. Vinti Puhal (B.A.M.S)
What is dandruff?
Dandruff is a commonly seen condition that causes the skin on the scalp to flake. While it is not contagious or serious, it can cause a lot of redness, itchiness or itchy scalp and be a source of potential hairfall. Moreover, it can be embarrassing and difficult to treat. In fact, Dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis. Dandruff signs and symptoms may include:
- Skin flakes on your scalp, hair, eyebrows, beard or moustache, and shoulders
- Itchy scalp
- Scaly, crusty scalp in infants with cradle cap
- Redness in scalp
The signs and symptoms may be more severe if a person is stressed or has a low immune system. A healthy body, mind is needed for overall well-being, which includes healthy, dandruff free hair and healthy scalp.
Causes of dandruff
Ayurveda calls out dandruff in the category of diseases known as Shudra Roga, which appears due to an imbalance of all three doshas. The primary doshas involved are Pitta and Vata. Pitta is an Ayurvedic humor which symbolizes heat or fire, while Vata is dry and rough in its elemental nature. In an aggravated state, both doshas cause production of specific impurities, called ama, which are dry and heating in nature. These impurities accumulate in the deep tissues of the scalp and contaminate them. Contamination of the deep tissues and aggravated Vata-Pitta Dosha cause itching and patches on scalp. Due to these factors, the scalp sheds more than normal amounts of dead epidermal cells, which leads to the problem of dandruff.
Dandruff in winters
Dandruff is seen to increase during the winter months. The overall dry air in winters and lack of moisture/ humidity is one of the reasons for aggravating dandruff. This is exacerbated by people using room heaters and hot water for bathing – all of which further rob the skin and scalp of natural oils. Moreover, people tend to drink less water in winters, and that leads to dehydration of skin and hair – leading to more dandruff.
One of the best ways to reduce the dandruff problem is to follow a healthy and holistic life style and health care regime, not only in winters but through the year. A natural way to help combat dandruff and dry scalp issues is to stay hydrated (which is often an issue in winters) and eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. People with dandruff should use special products developed to treat the scalp, prevent it from becoming too dry and prevent the dead skin from flaking.
It is a good practise to do ‘shiro abhyanga’ regularly – a calming head massage with an anti dandruff oil. This helps to nourish and moisturize the scalp. Using a mild anti dandruff shampoo (or as is often called, dandruff shampoo) made with ayurveda based ingredients is recommended instead of harsh chemicals-based shampoos as they further strip away the natural oils in the scalp. Herbs like anantmool, tulsi, neem and manjistha are natural deterrents to dandruff, hence try and choose products which have these as their active ingredients.
Ayurveda calls out dandruff as a skin disease ‘darunaka’ and hence recommends using supplements to help improve the internal health of the body. The right supplement will help detox the body and nourish the scalp from within, preventing recurrence of dandruff. It is also good to avoid excessive blow drying and using hot water for shampooing.
Overall, dandruff treatment needs a complete approach and must be handled externally and internally. A good and effective dandruff treatment works at removing the root cause of dandruff and giving smooth, healthy scalp and hair. It is important to choose the best oil for dandruff and best shampoo for dandruff. A good dandruff treatment plan or solution for dandruff works at a holistic level to remove it.
(Image by Freepik)